A couple of weeks ago I bought a new guitar. I haven’t bought a new acoustic guitar for the best part of thirty years. I’d come back from a gig, opened my case and discovered some damage to the side of my trusty old Gibson J45 and it’s currently enjoying some loving restoration.
I’d been eyeing the new acoustic for about fifteen years. In all honesty I know nothing about guitars and, it is only occasionally that I pick one up or play it live, but I know when a guitar suits me, and my new little Martin (thanks for asking) suits me just fine. A guitar should be played and I intend to take this one travelling with me next month when I hit the road, even though most of my show will feature the piano.
So often I’ve despaired at guitars being bought by collectors who stick them behind glass. Any time I’ve been asked to sign a guitar I have mixed feelings knowing the chances of someone playing the thing will be diminished as soon as the magic marker has defaced the woodwork. Guitars are beautiful things, designed by experts and made by true luthiers who put love and care into every step. The least you’d expect is for it to get a moment in the sun.
In the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville you will find an image of a guitar with a quote by Harlan Howard which states, ‘Country Music is three chords and the truth.’ One always imagines these three chords being played on the guitar. We know what the chords are too. In Music Row terms it’s the 1, 4 and the 5. Pick your own key or apply a capo. If you’re in any doubt about the potency of roots music consider if you will how many great songs have been fashioned using that simple formula. The simplicity is not to be derided but rather it is better to marvel at the imagination and creativity that continues to reinvent such a limited palette.
So it is that on this week’s Another Country we will pick some great country guitar moments. There will be twangs, strums, riffs and picks from across the years. Listen out for the moment where Gram Parsons passes the baton to the great James Burton with the immortal phrase, ‘Take it from me James.’ If all of that is not enough we will also introduce you to another of our guest presenters who will be sitting in the AC hot seat in my absence in late September and October. I won’t let you into that little secret, but you will be delighted that one of our all time favourite artists and writers will be bringing you their country faves in the near future.
There will be lots of great acts on this week’s show but new records too from Ingrid Andress, Aaron Raitiere and The National with Bon Iver. It all kicks off this Tuesday evening at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland (all frequencies) and BBC Sounds at a time and place of your choosing.